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La Cocoteraie 3.5

Saint Francois, Grande-Terre Island, Guadeloupe

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and a golf course
  • Direct access to a public beach; elevated section of semi-private beach
  • Airy, suite-style units with furnished balconies or terraces
  • Big, beautiful pool fringed by palm trees and bushes
  • Lovely open-air restaurant with a nice pond and views of the pool
  • Free breakfast with a modest selection of hot and cold dishes
  • Cute bar with swim-up and dry seating areas
  • On-site fitness center and lighted tennis courts
  • Massages and babysitting available for a fee
  • Simple meeting room in a separate building
  • Free self-parking

Cons

  • Many guests report maintenance and cleanliness issues
  • Wi-Fi only available in the lobby
  • Restaurant and bar hours are irregular (especially during low season)
  • Fitness center is small and dark

Bottom Line

La Cocoteraie is a three-and-a-half-pearl hotel in the resort town of St. Francois on Grande-Terre. The 52 suite-style rooms are beachy but chic, with large living areas and furnished balconies or terraces. With a picturesque pool, an inviting restaurant, and direct beach access, this hotel has a lot of potential, but frequent complaints of cleanliness issues are a letdown, as are the inconsistent hours of the restaurant and bar. Still, the hotel is quite stylish if you’re willing to overlook these details, and its central location puts guests within walking distance of the town’s dining and entertainment. Rates at Bwa Chik Hotel & Golf down the road are usually cheaper, and its facilities are better maintained.

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Scene

Beachfront hotel with all the qualities of a boutique gem, as well as some major problems

La Cocoteraie makes a great first impression, and the pillars and crisscross fencing of its white wooden bungalows impart a French Creole feel. Inside, the open-air lobby is equally elegant with rattan furniture, decorative masks, and exotic statues. A vermilion-colored accent wall pops behind the front desk. There are a number of cozy seating areas -- a particularly important feature considering that Wi-Fi is only available in the lobby, so guests tend to gather here to get online. The lobby leads through to the pool, restaurant, and beach. Suites are arranged around the pool, connected by a series of landscaped pathways. The further you explore, however, the more the property's flaws reveal themselves -- improperly cleaned rooms, bathrooms that could use a refresh, a dated fitness center, and uncomfortable poolside lounge chairs are a few of the issues.

Overall, it's a small, intimate property that’s most popular with couples. The crowd is relatively international, but like most of Guadeloupe, the majority of guests are French-speakers. The restaurant and bar are also appealing gathering places (when they’re open), although they’re not the type of venues where outside guests come to hang out.

Location

Excellent location in the resort village of St. Francois

Map of La Cocoteraie

La Cocoteraie is located along the main drag in St. Francois -- Avenue de l’Europe. St. Francois is one of Guadeloupe’s most popular tourist destinations, with quality restaurants, bars, and shops all found within a 10- to 15-minute walk of the hotel. In addition to offering its own small beaches, the hotel is a 15-minute walk away from the town’s main beach: Plage des Raisins Clairs. The Robert Trent Jones-designed Golf International de St Francois is just across the street, and the Casino de Saint-Francois is a 12-minute walk away. Pointe des Chateaux is just over a 15-minute drive away, while Sainte-Anne can be reached in half an hour by car. Pointe-a-Pitre International Airport is a little under a 50-minute drive away.

Rooms

Suite-style rooms with separate living areas and balconies or terraces; some maintenance issues

The bright suites at La Cocoteraie look beautiful at first glance, decorated with seagrass rugs, light-wood furniture, and soft palettes of lavender and blue. Beds have white sheets with sandy-colored bed runners, and bedrooms offer either garment wracks or chair butlers. Beachy living areas have small work desks and a mix of sofas, Adirondack chairs, and armchairs. Walls feature black-and-white retro photos of local scenes. Other decorations vary from suite to suite, but might include colorful bird statutes or lamps with bases made from rocks. All units have flat-screen TVs, as well as mini-fridges that are located under cabinets in either the bedrooms or living areas. All suites have balconies or terraces furnished with white plastic patio furniture. Views are of the pool or beach, but aren't particularly impressive and can be obscured by greenery in the lower-floor rooms.

Bathrooms are a bit more dated than rooms, with teal tiling, and each is split into two areas. One part offers an octagonal tub and twin sinks, while the other includes a toilet, a floating sink, and a shower. Showers are narrow and boxy, with drab curtains and older fixtures. Bathrobes are provided, as are off-brand bars of soap and bottles of shampoo and conditioner.

Note that many guests report cleanliness and maintenance issues. During our visit, we arrived to find the hairdryer didn’t work and the free bottle of water was swarming with ants. Another room we visited had a stained bathtub basin.

Features

Restaurant with views of the pool and coast, free continental breakfast, and direct beach access 

La Cocoteraie manages to check off all the typical features of an upper-middle-range property, but some go above and beyond expectations while others fall short. The resort's restaurant, La Varangue, is an attractive, open-air space set under a wood-beamed roof painted white. Decor includes white floor vases filled with green plants, and white pillars run around the restaurant’s periphery. A rectangular pond connects the restaurant with the pool area. Seating is a mix of simple wooden or white tables, which spill out into an uncovered deck overlooking the coast. A free breakfast is served here in the morning featuring breads, cheeses, yogurt, and a few hot items. The restaurant is supposed to be open for lunch and dinner as well, but it often has irregular hours, particularly during the low season.

The restaurant faces toward the hotel’s enormous round pool, bordered by a narrow tiled deck with wooden lounge chairs that look like they could use some cushions. An outer border of bushes provides privacy, while an arched bridge and a few pretty urns decorate the pool area. The hotel’s bar -- Indigo -- has a swim-up area as well as a dry seating area. Many guests report it’s often unstaffed during the day.

The property faces a public beach, but it also includes an elevated semi-private section of beach; both overlook a calm lagoon. This narrow stretch of firm, beige sand is dotted with palm trees and becomes rocky along the coast. Rows of white lounge chairs are provided for guests. There’s a sunny, ocean-view deck located between the beaches, which offers a few wooden lounge chairs and dark rattan armchairs. The public beach is a bit nicer, but naturally, there’s more competition for space. 

The hotel has a cramped, windowless fitness center with a small selection of older cardio and weight machines. There’s a pleasant little meeting room as well decorated with a mix of dark and painted-white woods. Two lighted tennis courts are also found on-site, and guests receive a discount at nearby Golf International de St Francois. While Wi-Fi is free, it's only available in the lobby, and there’s free parking on-site. Reception is staffed 24/7, and babysitting services and massages can be arranged for a fee.

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Address

Avenue de L Europe, Saint Francois 97118, Caribbean

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